Bill Johnson’s footprint is all over the University of Central Arkansas campus.
It no doubt still will be, but in a different setting.
Johnson is retiring at UCA, something many at the university find hard to imagine. A reception in his honor was held Thursday at the President’s House.
Johnson has been connected with the university for half a century, sometimes coordinating that with his day jobs.
He served as the radio voice of UCA football for 40 years while owning KCON Radio for 20 years. He has spent the last 10 years as a development officer in the athletic department. He has also served on UCA’s Board of Trustees for 14 years and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education Coordinating Board for 20 years.
Johnson was one of the first people to call me when I began work at the Log Cabin 34 years ago.
I immediately detected his passion for both Conway and his alma mater.
The UCA radio crew for years — Johnson, Bobby Tiner, Woody Cummins and Monty Rowell — were together on many a road trip to all stops in the old Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference and the Gulf South Conference. We experienced busses that leaned and two aircraft that had to be jump-started (in Texas and Ohio).
We shivered and we sweated.
Johnson, with his folksy manner, did it because he cared deeply about serving UCA, which was part of the family, and giving it as much exposure a possible. It was a service.
He was thorough and professional.
But he was not hesistant to correct something inaccurate — whether some misinformation in my columnn, a error in a news story in the Log Cabin or former president Lu Hardin’s penchant for greatly inflating attendance figures.
He did all that because he cared — that the record would be accurate for posterity.
He was an energetic force in the Purple Circle, UCA’s athletic booster organization. He was the athletic department’s unofficial historian. His institutional knowledge was unmatched.
As a development officer, he worked hard to create and promote events that both raised funds and created more exposure for the university.
He emceed the UCA Sports Hall of Fame luncheon/brunch for several years. He moved it along and made it special because he knew the people.
And he cared.
No doubt we’ll see him at many UCA events in an unofficial capacity.
He’ll have time for other interests. But I can’t imagine him not having time for UCA.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)